5 MAY 2004


Golden Horn Records is proud to announce its release of Veretski Pass, Traditional East European Jewish Music by the trio of the same name made up of klezmer veterans Cookie Segelstein, Joshua Horowitz and Stuart Brotman. Much of the music on this recording comes from and near the region of the Veretski Pass (after which the group is named) in the Transcarpathian region of what is now Ukraine, the main crossroads through which the Jews traversed the Carpathian Bow. Some melodies were passed on to Cookie by her father who was born in the town of Nizhni Veretski, at the base of this pass. Others were collected by the members themselves in their travels throughout Eastern Europe. Much of the music on this CD is recorded for the first time. The instruments used on this recording are largely 19th Century versions of the violin, viola, 3 stringed bass, basy (3 stringed polish folk cello), bayan (early chromatic button accordion), tsimbl (Jewish hammered dulcimer) and baraban (Jewish bass drum).

There is a stunning suite of Crimean Tatar music which is both haunting and virtuosic. The Crimean Tatars are considered one of the three indigenous peoples of the Crimean Peninsula. Hoping to strip the Crimean Tatars of their ethnicity, Stalin eliminated close to half of their population and decimated their cultural institutions. The Tatars therefore viewed the German occupation of Crimea as their last hope of survival. The Nazis in turn saw this as a unique opportunity to turn other Russian minorities against Stalin, so they declared the Tatars a people and recorded their folk music on 78 r.p.m discs. These recordings were made available to Verestki Pass by Prof. Martin Schwartz (from the collection of Dr. Zev Feldman) and reappear here for the first time in a new interpretation.

There is also a rare Karaite song, followed by improvisations and a pyrotechnic fiddle song performed on a scordatura violin. The Karaite Jews accept only the written word of the Old Testament and reject the rabbinical Oral Commentaries. As a people, they have also been brutally subjugated by their neighbors and spurned by the Jewish Community at large. Their music has been kept close to their culture.

There are also original compositions, a suite with a bass and viola duet, traditional Jewish and Ukrainian dance tunes all accompanied by booklet with rich photographs and finely wrought essays by each of the members of the trio, making this album a treasure trove of sound and word. This is truly a creative and powerful use of a small group of players who make music reminiscent of raucous and confident village musicians, nothing short of a redefinition of the genre we now call klezmer.

Cookie Segelstein: Violin, scordatura violin, viola
Joshua Horowitz: Chromatic button accordion, tsimbl
Stuart Brotman: Bass, basy, baraban